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News: March registration plate change triggers showroom stampede

The allure of a shiny new 14-plate model was enough to drive a record number of new car buyers into dealer showrooms, according to figures from the SMMT.


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THE ALLURE of a shiny new 14-plate model was enough to drive a record number of new car buyers into dealer showrooms, according to figures from the SMMT.

Registrations for March closed at 464,824, a rise of 17.1% on the same month last year. Since the move to the twice-yearly plate change in 1999, only March 2004 has seen higher registrations (466,954).

The March sales boom is mirrored in year-to-date new car sales, which are up 13.7% to 688,122 units.

The SMMT said it was “surprised” by the strong level of growth, though acknowledged  growing consumer confidence and improved availability of improved models played a part.

Among the winners in March’s showroom wars were premium brands including Bentley, Porsche and BMW, but mainstream manufacturers such as Dacia, Renault and MG were also celebrating.

Licking their wounds were brands including MINI, Infiniti and Chevrolet (which has announced its departure from the UK next year).

See our guide to the best new 14-plate cars here